by Seth Moskowitz
Wednesday, 16
November 2022
Reaction
10:14

Donald Trump launches his bid for president — as the underdog

The ex-president spoke for an hour without mentioning Ron DeSantis
by Seth Moskowitz
Look who’s back. Credit: Getty.

It’s official: Donald Trump is running for president of the United States in 2024. The former president made his announcement last night in an hour-long speech at his estate in Mar-a-Lago, kicking off what is bound to be a contentious campaign for the Republican nomination.

The speech was hardly riveting, and Trump spent most of the hour regurgitating themes he’s been pressing for the past six years. What may have felt shocking or subversive when he announced his 2016 campaign felt tired this time. Nevertheless, the kickoff does give us insight into what kind of campaign Trump is planning to run and, in particular, the three-part message he is banking on to take him back to the White House.

The first part of this message is that Trump made America great during his presidency. Within the first five minutes of his speech, Trump bragged that “two years ago, when I left office, the United States stood ready for its golden age. Our nation was at the pinnacle of power, prosperity and prestige, towering above all rivals, vanquishing all enemies, and striding into the future confident and so strong.” Trump wasn’t shy about making it clear that this prosperity was all due to his leadership on every issue imaginable, including the economy, energy independence, the pandemic, competition with China, tax cuts, Islamic terrorism, and immigration. 

The second part of Trump’s message is that Joe Biden and the radical Left have destroyed America. He painted a disturbing picture of America as a nation suffused with violence and privation, lamenting “the blood-soaked streets of our once great cities,” that “our country is being invaded” by illegal immigrants, and the fact that “under Biden and the radical Democrats, America has been mocked, derided, and brought to its knees.” In Trump’s telling, all of the country’s problems — from inflation, violent crime and illegal immigration to the Ukraine war, gas prices and America’s weakness on the international stage — can be laid at the feet of Biden and the Democratic Party. 

The final piece of Trump’s message is that he is running for president to reverse the destruction that the Democrats have wrought and that he will Make America Great Again (again). While his agenda is relatively short on specifics, Trump struck the same nationalistic and isolationist tone he’s been hammering for years: he’s going to crack down on illegal immigration and crime, get tough on China, and bring back domestic manufacturing with tariffs. Other parts of his agenda are updated for the times, like his promises to reduce inflation, ensure the security of elections, and prevent transgender women from competing in women’s sports. 

The speech, however, was just as notable for what Trump didn’t say. At no point did he mention that the 2020 election was stolen from him. Given his continuous focus on this exact issue for the past two years, its exclusion from the speech must have been a conscious choice.

Just as striking was that Trump didn’t mention any of his potential Republican challengers. Given the fury he has directed at his most viable competitor, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis, in the past few days, leaving this out of the speech was also no accident. Trump most likely ditched talk of the “stolen election” because he realises it’s unpopular and divisive; he restrained himself from criticising his opponents because he wants to be seen as the frontrunner and presumed nominee, rather than just another candidate. 

But, unfortunately for Trump, ignoring his competitors won’t make them disappear. A number of polls released earlier this week show DeSantis to be more popular of the two among G.O.P. voters. Trump’s purchase within the G.O.P. is at a nadir after the disastrous midterm elections in which a number of his endorsed candidates underperformed and cost Republicans control of the House and Senate. This time, Trump is not guaranteed the Republican nomination the way he was in 2020. In some ways, he’s looking like an underdog.

The former president’s announcement speech gives us important hints about the kind of campaign he is planning to run, but it doesn’t give us much insight into whether or not that campaign will be effective. Only time — and the conclusion of what’s bound to be an especially contentious campaign cycle — will tell us that.

Join the discussion


To join the discussion, get the free daily email and read more articles like this, sign up.

It's simple, quick and free.

Sign me up
Subscribe
Notify of
guest
17 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
11 days ago

I hope he doesn’t destroy the chances of the selected GOP candidate, which won’t be Trump, in his wrecking ball approach during the primaries.

Jim R
Jim R
11 days ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Thats exactly what he will do. And just as the democrats spent millions supporting extremist republicans in the mid-term primaries, they will be delighted to see Trump in this race again. Their chances of winning the next election just shot way up.

Richard Pearse
Richard Pearse
11 days ago

I keep hearing hints that a “Dump Trump” movement is afoot. I voted for him twice, but now just want him to go away (unlikely, given his massive ego and need for attention).

I fear that we (not he) will only learn (once again) the hard way that he can never get more than 45-48% of the vote in the swing states, and that his presence motivates the 40% of US voters who self-classify as “independents” to vote against him, no matter who the other candidate is.

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 days ago

Since the elections are rigged, as Arizona alone proved yesterday, none of this matters. It’s obviously all just theater to distract the populace from the crimes committed against us by the political class.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 days ago

From the Unherd piece on Badenoch today – ” Expressing fears about “people not knowing what is true and what is false,” Badenoch argued that this is “a huge problem for those of us who believe in liberty.” She further warned that “when people can’t tell what’s true and what’s false, they move into a space where they worry about how they feel and how things make them feel.”

Did Kelly’s win make you feel bad Allison?

Jim R
Jim R
11 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

Nice burn. I was in Arizona right before the election and the media climate was unbelievably toxic. Every ad on every channel had been bought up for the election, and they were all highly negative ‘attack’ ads. The public debate is not about actual policies but each side simply creates ‘straw men’ narratives to paint the other side as a mortal threat. No wonder no one knows what’s true or false anymore and we all feel bad!

Al Bruton
Al Bruton
10 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

The US will never achieve a truly democratic government
All their choices are now created by people with money to burn.
When Americans start voting for a person that is a truly independent candidate–that is running—without the millions of dollars that now back all candidates–that’s when they will get “government of the people–by the people–for the people”
Over 1 billion dollars was spent on the mid terms. Does anyone think the people– that gave that money to the candidates–did it for the good of the USA?
When an American can run for political office and not be affiliated with the Republican or the democratic party–when that person can honestly say they will only take donations from individuals– and nothing from Billionaires, corporations or unions–and when that person wins an election–that’s when you will have a true democracy

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 days ago
Reply to  Jim R

Just because the build up to the election was toxic doesn’t mean the election was rigged. It turns out refusing to accept election results was a massive vote killer at the recent mid terms

Jim R
Jim R
9 days ago
Reply to  Billy Bob

Uhhh, did I say anything at all about the election being rigged? I think you just illustrated the very problem I was talking about – falsely ascribe a position to your opponent so you can then correct them. You are truly a slayer of straw men!

Last edited 9 days ago by Jim R
Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

You are correct! Who cares about what is false and what is true, if you don’t give a hoot about liberty?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
11 days ago
Reply to  Dominic A

I live in Florida where we had efficient, well-monitored polls, mandatory voter ID, and timely election results. None of our cameras went “off line” for eight hours, we didn’t have issues with ballot ink, our candidates debated one another, and our great governor was re-elected in a landslide, so I feel great. What is tragic is that other states allow, no, commit blatant criminal election activity, and they really don’t care that we know it. Also, who’s Kelly?

Jerry Carroll
Jerry Carroll
10 days ago

He’s finished. He made a good start but then failed to deliver on his biggest promise, completing a wall at the southern border. Beyond that his incontinent Twittering and his sheer nastiness has turned off many of his old supporters, including this one.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
11 days ago

Losing by a fraction of a percent, after counting “votes” for over a week, is considered a “disastrous” result? You might as well call it blue wave then!

Billy Bob
Billy Bob
10 days ago

This fool is finished. He first arrived as a complete outsider with no political baggage, at a time a majority were sick of the status quo of being looked down upon by the establishment, and was up against an incredibly weak field of Republicans and possibly the most unappealing presidential candidate the opposition could muster.
Whilst his rhetoric and bluster seemed fresh six years ago, now it merely feels tiresome. Any good policies he put forward at the time such as putting pressure on China and clamping down on illegal immigration has long since been drowned out by the barrage of nonsense such as the stolen election.

Last edited 10 days ago by Billy Bob
Jim Veenbaas
Jim Veenbaas
11 days ago

American politics is a cesspool of filth and garbage. The Democrats will sell their soul, and your future, to win an election. They either try to buy your vote or scare you sh$tless. Their political agenda, what passes for one, will destroy western civilization. And yet Trump has somehow managed to reach an even lower bar than this. He’s a pathological narcissist who doesn’t care about anything but himself, not even his party. He should have waited until after the Georgia Senate runoff to make this announcement, but he can’t even do that. The GOP has to suck it up and give this guy the boot, even if they alienate the hardcore Trumpists.

Steve Jolly
Steve Jolly
10 days ago

The sooner he’s gone, the better. He was elected as a middle finger to the establishment, to bring to the forefront popular views that were suppressed by the oligarchical powers in his own party. Bernie nearly accomplished a similar feat with Democrats. I would have liked to see Trump/Sanders in 2016 or 2020. Most of what Trump accomplished was accomplished by December of 2016. What he accomplished was to win without establishment support, in the face of direct opposition from said establishment. The mere fact of his success was a watershed moment for American politics. What he accomplished won’t be easily undone, even if he is. Many of the changes he pushed have become political orthodoxy almost overnight. His anti-free trade policy is now the political orthodoxy. TPP was dead before the 2016 election thanks to him and Bernie. There will be no grand new free trade areas opening up for the foreseeable future. Biden has not withdrawn the China tariffs and recently drastically increased the pressure with new restrictions on chip technology exports. The opposition to forever wars like Afghanistan and Iraq is more entrenched than ever in both parties. The Republican party will not go back to simply being a party of low taxes and low regulations. The blue collar rural bent of the party is now impossible to dislodge because of the voting base. These things needed to happen because both parties had become too beholden to elites and not accountable enough to voters. Trump was a vehicle for change in an environment where almost all the top-down forces of governments, political parties, and elite sentiments were holding onto an increasingly unsustainable status quo. History will remember Trump as a deeply flawed person who accomplished much despite his many, many shortcomings. His moment, however, has passed and he does all of us, and himself, a disservice by lingering.

Dominic A
Dominic A
11 days ago

Trump’s greatness was a century in the making – I know it is not His style but He should have credited the groomers that made it all possible: Ted Haggard, Jim Baker, Todd Coontz, Charles Ponzi, Kenneth Copeland to name but a few of those who prepared the American mind to receive His message.

Last edited 11 days ago by Dominic A